Renter Protection for the Elderly
Seniors in the United States are renting over buying more prevalently than ever before. According to Rent Café, there were 9.4 million senior renters in the U.S. in 2017. More seniors are choosing to rent for a variety of reasons such as less maintenance, less space, the ability to travel more and to save money in retirement.
The Fair Housing Act protects renters from discrimination. Sellers and landlords aren’t allowed to discriminate based on race, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, and now, disability. Therefore, elderly renters can look at the Fair Housing Act as renter protection.
Renter protection through the Fair Housing Act
As the Act states, landlords can’t deny you based on any disabilities you may have. Some landlords think disability correlates with age, when in fact, it does not. The elderly, anyone over the age of 60, are healthier now than ever before. Still, a landlord may assume that due to your increased age, you have a disability and, as a result, will try to deny you as a tenant. However, this violates the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from asking you any personal health-related questions. For example, an independent senior living facility in San Antonio, Texas, was sued for asking prospective tenants whether they used a wheelchair. Another denied applicant sued a landlord for asking personal health questions.
Other ways the Act helps elderly renters are prohibiting landlords from not allowing you to make necessary modifications to the residence if you have a disability. It also prohibits them from refusing to make accommodations for you if you’re disabled. For example, if you are blind and have a seeing-eye dog and the building doesn’t allow pets, they must make an exception.
If you apply for a rental residence and experience discrimination based on your age or disability, know that the Fair Housing Act will protect you.
Senior housing exemption
Although the Fair Housing Act protects senior renters from discrimination, another act established in 1995 allows properties to file from a senior housing exemption. The Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) allows qualifying properties to market specifically to older age groups. Only housing communities can qualify for the exemption, so you won’t find a single-family home for rent that has this exemption.
There are many benefits to living in a senior housing community. The best part is several types of properties that cater to the elderly are still attractive to active, independent seniors. Types of properties that qualify for the senior housing exemption include 55+ communities, senior living apartments, retirement communities, and independent senior living communities.
Moving to a senior community gives you more renter protection than any other complex because they work directly with tenants in your age group. Within these communities, you may find they offer more amenities and features that cater to all kinds of seniors. Some features you may find attractive are step-in showers, elevators, emergency call systems, on-site nurses, and nearby hospitals.
Renter’s insurance for the elderly
Most apartment complexes and senior living communities require tenants to purchase renter’s insurance. However, if you find a community that doesn’t, you should consider purchasing renter’s insurance for your benefit. Renter’s insurance covers things like your possessions if your apartment gets broken into, damage to your unit caused by storms, floods, fires, and more.
Renter’s insurance is usually very inexpensive, so the monthly cost won’t hugely affect your budget. However, premiums can vary based on the location, safety features of the dwelling, such as an alarm system, the crime rate of the area, coverage, and more. Having renter’s insurance will only provide more protection.
Unless you are at risk of harming yourself and others in the community, landlords cannot remove you from the premises. If you find yourself needing more assistance for daily activities but don’t want to leave your apartment, consider hiring an at-home nurse or part-time assistant.